SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - While he may not get the same accolades or the fanatical following that Sidney Crosby enjoys, Jonathan Toews is also proving himself to be Canada’s man for every moment.
On Sunday, Toews scored the winning goal in Canada’s 3-0 win over Sweden in the gold medal game of the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
Toews also netted Canada’s first goal in the final against the United States at the 2010 Vancouver Games although his score was later overshadowed by Crosby’s overtime winner that decided the gold medal.
Crosby stole Toews’s thunder again on Sunday when he scored his team’s second goal on a breakaway before Chris Kunitz put the result beyond doubt with his first of the tournament.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be part of a team like that, whether your role was big or small. We were just an amazing team to watch, the way we worked together and the way we were all over them. It was a fun team to be a part of,” Toews said.
”You look at the skill we have across our line-up and it is amazing to see the guys who have the raw talent and ability to commit themselves to doing all the little things right.
“We knew that is what it was going to take to win the championship.”
Like all the Canadian players, Toews is used to being upstaged by Crosby even though he’s quietly been building a resume that is just as impressive as his revered team mate.
Both have two Olympic gold medals and both captained their National Hockey League teams to win the Stanley Cup, with Crosby winning with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009 and Toews with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and 2013.
Toews also won a world championship with Canada in 2007 - one of the few tournaments Crosby has never won - and remains the youngest member of ice hockey’s elite Triple Gold Club - for players who have the won the Olympics, world and NHL titles.
Canadian forward Jeff Carter said having Crosby and Toews at the top of their games gave all the players a lift.
“They are leaders for a reason and they brought everything they had,” Carter said. “When you get your top guys going like that, it is pretty easy for the rest of the team to follow.”
While Crosby was a seemingly obvious choice to be named as Canada’s captain for the Sochi Olympics, the high regard in which Toews is held made it a difficult choice for the team management.
Even Crosby, who is almost a year older than Toews, asked for his younger team mate’s blessing before accepting the role.
Toews said he was fine with the decision and agreed to be the team’s assistant captain and the pair once again hit it off on the ice.
“With all this pressure in the tournament,” Toews said. “You play special just to find a way to win and to make your country proud.”
Editing by Frank Pingue